Police: Graffiti Investigation ‘Open and Ongoing’ 

New Canaan Police say they’ve investigated 30 instances of vandalism so far in 2024, and that nearly half of them (14) are related to graffiti that appeared in recent weeks in the greater downtown area. Those instances include damage to a USPS mailbox, Bristow Park, dumpsters and public and private property, according to Lt. Marc DeFelice, the department’s public information officer. Citing information supplied by investigating Officer Nicole Vartuli, he said the graffiti is “consistent with some of the graffiti tags found in the downtown area [that] have been reported at the entrance fence of the land conservation on West Road.”

“There has also been graffiti reported at the entrance bridge of the Land Trust [property] on Weed Street,” he said. Asked whether the vandalism in the parks and downtown are believe to be linked or from a single perpetrator, DeFelice said, “There have been four different graffiti tags identified that may or may not be related. NCPD has not identified any suspects at this time.

‘I Feel Extremely Lucky To Work Here’: NCPD Hosts ‘Coffee with a Cop’

New Canaan Police officers greeted patrons of UCBC Bagels downtown Saturday during the department’s periodic “Coffee with a Cop” event. NCPD Community Impact Officer Nicole Vartuli said she’s seeking to make the meet-and-greet with the community a monthly happening at different coffee shops in New Canaan. “We’re just trying to bridge that gap between the Police Department and the community and I think it’s a great concept,” Vartuli said during the two-hour gathering at the South Avenue bagel shop. UCBC patrons received stickers, pens and special “badges” from Vartuli, Officer Erica Morey and Sgt. Thomas Callinan.

Plan for Standard Pedestrian Crosswalk Signals Includes Continuous ‘Locator’ Beep for Visually Impaired

A plan to standardize pedestrian crosswalks in New Canaan with an audible signal for the visually impaired includes a continuous low beep to let people know when they’re approaching an intersection, town officials say. The beeping itself must be audible to those who need to hear it, though not so loud that it disturbs people living in houses or apartments nearby, members of the Police Commission said at their most recent meeting. The “locator” beep is different from the percussive sound that a pedestrian signal makes when it’s safe to cross, Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the Commission at its Oct. 19 meeting, held at police headquarters. 

Referring to the intersection of South Avenue and Farm Road, Mann said, “Certainly if we were looking at one around the school system, we might want it to be a little bit louder, but then there is a resident right next to it, so we have to be concerned about that.”

The Police Commission undertook an effort to standardize pedestrian crosswalk signals in September, after New Canaan Police Community Impact Officer Nicole Vartuli brought a lack of consistency to the appointed body’s attention after receiving complaints from a blind resident. 

The locator beep must run 24/7 “because I don’t know when a blind pedestrian will arrive at the crosswalk,” Mann said. “I can’t say, ‘You can only be there from 8 to 5,’ to be honest,” he said.

Town Officials Call for Improved Pedestrian Crosswalks with Uniform Countdown Timers, Audible Signals

Officials say they’re looking to install new pedestrian signals at crosswalks in New Canaan that will include a “countdown” timer for those seeking to cross the street as well as an audible signal for the visually impaired. There’s little consistency in how the crosswalk signals in town function, according to New Canaan Police Department Community Impact Officer Nicole Vartuli, who focuses on the downtown in her role. 

Vartuli told members of the Police Commission at their Sept. 21 meeting that she received a complaint from a blind resident regarding the crossing signals at Cherry Street and East Avenue, and that prompted her to look at other areas. “I noticed they were not uniform and they looked different—some had audible, some did not,” Vartuli said at the meeting, held at police headquarters and via videoconference. 

Pedestrian fatalities are rising each year and have doubled since 2013, Vartuli said, due to quieter electric vehicles and increased distracted driving. 

Vartuli said she connected with Public Works Director Tiger Mann and then put together a proposal for the Commission regarding the crosswalks. It calls for the town to look at eight downtown locations, Mann said, six of which are state-owned and two of which are owned by the town (at Park and Elm Streets, and at Park and Pine Streets).